It's just a few days until the clock strikes 2014, so let me
take this opportunity to wish you a safe, happy, and healthy new
year. And, of course, a year filled with killer deals. (I'll
be on hand to help make that happen.)
As you may recall, I recently named my favorite tech of 2013
. But no more looking back;
it's time to set our sights on the year ahead, which promises to be
just as exciting, crazy, and unpredictable as the year we just
Of course, unpredictability won't stop me from making
predictions. And I've got my Android-powered crystal ball (what,
you think I'd trust Windows with something as important as the
future?) right here, so let's take a look at the tech trends that
will shape 2014.
1. Smartwatches Everywhere
Though industry analysts predicted 2013 would be the year of the
smartwatch, it turned out to be the year of dumbwatches. No
manufacturer got it right, though plenty of them tried.
And they'll keep trying until one company gets it right, meaning
low price, super-long battery life, and simple, useful features.
I'm confident this will happen, though I'm not sure it'll be Apple
or Google leading the charge. More likely we'll see a Pebble
competitor figure out the right formula, and that will usher in the
era of the smartwatch.
2. Savvy Scanners
In 2013, Neat and Evernote introduced cloud-savvy scanners. (The
former was among my favorite products of the year, and with good
In 2014, every scanner (including those built into multifunction
printers) will be smart enough to send scans directly to cloud
services, no PC required. As it should be. The whole idea of
tethering any device to a computer is seriously out of date. Proof
positive: Android and iOS smartphones no longer sync to PCs, but
rather to the cloud. Peripherals will start to do likewise.
3. Big iPhones
Apple will finally give the people what they want (and have
wanted ever since 2012), namely an iPhone with a 5- or even 6-inch
I suspect this will happen in June, not September. Expect the
rumor mill to start cranking into overdrive as early as
4. Goodbye, Phone Contracts!
In 2014, the dreaded two-year cell phone contract will
start to disappear--and good riddance, am I right? Smaller carriers
like Boost Mobile, Republic Wireless, and Straight Talk will force
the bigger carriers to give up subsidized smartphones in favor of
no-contract, pay-as-you-go plans.
This will happen. I feel it in my bones. Smartphone owners have
been paying too much for too long, and now that significantly
cheaper alternatives are available, big, big changes are afoot for
the cellular industry.
5. Goodbye, Laptops!
Well, maybe not goodbye, but a lot fewer hellos. Next year,
consumers fed up with Windows will start to choose tablets in place
Consider: A tablet is thinner and lighter than any laptop. It
lasts longer on a battery charge. It boots and shuts down
instantly. It runs most "important" software (e-mail, Evernote,
Facebook, etc.) and requires no anti-virus software.
Best of all, tablets don't have Blue Screens of Death. They
don't get slower over time. They don't have unnecessarily complex
interfaces. And people love them! When was the last time you heard
someone say "I hate my tablet"? (Substitute "laptop" and you hear
that statement a lot.)
As a result, we'll see more hybrid models with removable
keyboards. And hopefully more apps that cater to laptop
Okay, those are my predictions--now let's hear yours! What major
tech trends do you envision for 2014?Veteran technology writer Rick Broida
is the author of numerous books, blogs, and features. He lends his
money-saving expertise to CNET and Savings.com, and also writes for PC